The great thing about thematic gaming is the escapism. Imagining new worlds and living unrealistic stories. Pandemic affords you the rosy experience of extinction by plague, rather than the nightmarish Mad Max hellscape we are hurtling toward.
And to be even more cheerful, I can’t post photos of this game without spoiling it. So I’ve included a bunch of cute pets instead!
I’m not going to waste everyone’s time discussing the rules of Pandemic. It’s one of those quintessential games that everyone should play. So if you haven’t, stop reading and go do that. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
… Did you like it? If you hated it, why not check out my reviews for Spirit Island, The Grizzled, or One Deck Dungeon–all great cooperative games that might interest you more.
Pandemic Legacy is almost exactly like the normal game. Mechanically almost nothing changes. 2-4 players work together to rid the world of disease by collecting sets of colored cards and trying to hold back the plagues before they consume the world.
Pandemic Legacy adds a new element of an ever changing game. Through their actions and gameplay, players will open boxes and sleeves that add new elements to the game. Some cards even get–*gulp*–ripped up, never to be used again.
A legacy story takes you through a whole year of play, anywhere between 12 and 24 games before it is finished. The more players the better, but getting that sort of dedication can be difficult. Pandemic Legacy is fine for a younger audience, but some of the events of S1–and especially S2–might feel a bit heavy for those outside of double digit age.
Oh, and don’t play S2 before S1. Some story elements carry over.
If this is your first Legacy game you are in for a treat. The end of each month offers a new surprise, each seal broken and each box opened acts like an achievement based advent calendar. You start to plan your strategy around unlocking surprises rather than winning the game. Saving the world is less interesting than opening the mystery door.
That kind of says a lot about humanity.
Those of you returning to S2 from S1 aren’t going to get the same game twice. Immediately upon opening the box and looking at the board you’ll notice the difference. There is a reason for all the pet pictures, any picture of an open box is a spoiler.
Both games function under the same premise. Start with a light set of rules and gradually add more. Eventually the player will juggle all 9+ actions with ease. And as the threats get stronger the players add more to their arsenal. Each game’s end sees the player spending their experience to enhance their characters or weaken the infection. But the game always bounces back no matter how strong the players get; the unknown changes mean the characters are never fully aware of what to expect.
It’s really easy to immerse yourself in the game. We often found ourselves creating relationships and backstory to our characters outside of those provided by game mechanics. Teams that worked well together were harder to separate–and when we did finally lose a character it hurt our morale.
Your sacrifice will never be forgotten Malcolm!
As stated, start with S1 should you wish to play. Beyond the carried over story elements, we felt like S1 was a better experience. This was mostly due to the necessary bookkeeping of S2 and the lack of big surprises compared to S1.
I really, really wish I could elaborate more, but I can’t. Have another cute pet.
The biggest complaint you’ll hear of the games is that they are still just Pandemic. And I get it, Pandemic can get dull. S2 tries to shake things up enough to hide the connection, but the wizard behind the curtain reveals himself eventually.
Don’t do what we did and shotgun all the games over a vacation. You will grow bored and it will be a lesser experience. Let the excitement build between game months until you’re ready to play again. Eating all the chocolate the first week of December may sound like a great idea, but all things in moderation.
Pandemic Legacy is one of the most thematic experiences you will ever have with a board game. The immersion will drown you in the world you are destined to save. Every victory is a celebration, every loss a somber moment. And as the story continues you’ll run the gamut of emotions, including a strong feeling of investment. You are responsible for the safety of this world.
For some, the 18 and done maximum has been a discussion point, but I see no issue with it. Even my most loved games struggle to break 30 plays, and the MSRP is low enough that you get the required value before it expires. Some argue about the waste of expendable board games, but what board game isn’t just a box of junk with rules? At least Pandemic Legacy will give you hours of investment worthy of the expenditure.